Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will design and install an active traffic management (ATM) system on a 34-mile stretch of Interstate 66 in northern Virginia from Washington, D.C. to Gainesville. Construction of the $34 million system begins this spring and will be complete in early 2015.
Speaking about today's announcement, Governor McDonnell said, "We are bringing the next generation of traffic management to one of the most congested corridors in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Conditions on I-66 in northern Virginia demand the deployment of this innovative technology and commuters will benefit from improved safety and increased communication during incidents and congestion."
Drivers will see new dynamic message and lane control signs, which will advise them of incidents and delays, travel times and provide directions on merging traffic and usable lanes to help transition traffic smoothly and safely. Ultimately, the improved road monitoring and information collected by the system should enable first responders to clear incidents more quickly.
"The ATM system will continuously monitor traffic and road conditions using technology such as vehicle-detection sensors and closed-circuit television cameras," said Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton. "This new system will provide motorists with information that shows what lies ahead along their commute, helping them make more informed travel decisions."
A host of automated tools will allow for dynamic reductions in speed limits as vehicles approach areas of congestion, work zones, special events, etc., and will help optimize and manage traffic flow safely. These tools include advanced lane-control signals, queue warning, dynamic use of shoulder lanes, adaptive ramp metering and speed harmonization strategies.
"The use of electronic signs is a key element of ATM," said VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley. "The signs will be lane-specific and closely spaced so that drivers - and emergency responders - are constantly informed about traffic conditions and are provided guidance on how best to proceed."
Work will begin this spring with construction of six emergency pull-off areas inside and outside the Capital Beltway. Dynamic message signs, ramp meters, sensors and new traffic cameras will be added throughout the corridor. On the most congested 12-mile section, from I-495 to Route 29 in Centreville, gantries will be installed every half-mile with lane-control signals and queue warning systems.
VDOT is using technology and lessons from ATM projects in Europe and Seattle to roll this effort out in phases. The $34 million design-build contract was awarded to TransCore.